Cooked pasta sauce on wooden spoon
What The Booze In Your Vodka Sauce Is Really Doing To The Taste
Though much of the vodka in vodka sauce evaporates during cooking, it still has a huge impact, balancing and enhancing flavorful compounds in tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and cream.
The idea is not to add a distinct vodka flavor, but to elevate flavors of the other ingredients in the sauce. The alcoholic is essentially an aroma enhancer, not a flavoring.
Vodka also acts as an emulsifier, an ingredient that helps bind fat and water together. This allows the cream to blend well with the tomatoes, creating a smooth texture.
As for the amount of alcohol to use, chef J. Kenji López-Alt's recipe on Serious Eats uses a ¼ cup of vodka for every four cups of tomato sauce for the perfect balance.